Conditions: the expected headwind that caused the schedule to be moved earlier never showed during racing at least; one wag hoped that the racing would go off, and the rain would start just in time for the officials to do all their speeches - they weren't far off. The rain held until the men's eight medal ceremony, but tapered off again to let us all get out of there more or less dry. Temps were far lower today than they have been this week - cooler temps and tailwinds made for some fantastic racing.
The US men's eight defended their world title in the eight with an extremely solid, confident row that looked a bit like last year's race, if not quite as exceptional - which is only to say they probably never had a whole pile of open water like they did last year, and they had to sprint this year. As of yesterday afternoon, all indications were that Matt Deakin, who had hurt his back on the first stroke of the men's four semifinal, was not going to row today, but there he was in his regular spot in the two-seat, as well as up on the medal stand in the gold medal spot.
Quotes from the crew, thanks to USRowing's Brett Johnson:
We knew, I think, that we were the best eight there, that we just had to execute. Our goal was to get out and get as much on the field as we could, and I think we did that and it worked out well.
Doubling up: Doubling up was tough. It's hard to say if it was a good decision or a bad decision, but I think today was a little bit of redemption, but I think we expected too much, and did too little, so in order to make that happen... that's a tough event, and those guys are all really good.
Gold medal: It feels great, I'm really excited about it. I'm happy for the new guys in the boat, they did a great job. I think they did most of the work for us down the course.
|Final Medal Count|
(includes adaptive medals)
Our start was good; it was average, it wasn't spectacular, tho I think we got an okay time, but I think the whole field was going through some wakes in the first 700 meters of the course. it seemed like we were catching a lot of boatwakes, we had some bobbles. When the water calmed down, we took our move and took about a half length on the field, and then just relaxed the next 300. On our next move, we took it up and took that full length on the field, and relaxed through the third 500 and pressed on, because Italy and Germany were coming up really fast. Maybe we thought we would be out a little more early.
On the gold medal: It is a huge thing. Last year we had some really great races but ended up with a bronze in the coxed four. I guess I didn't expect to be in the eight this year; I wanted to train hard and to be in the hunt, and I definitely had my best year of rowing. To be a part of this eight, especially with these guys that were chasing after the double, making two finals in two heavywieght sweep events is amazing. i think it was just a really great opportunity to bring the senior class from Athens with the sophomore class from Worlds in 2004. I think we took full advantage. Mike did a great job instilling in us that we could do it, if we really put our minds to it, we could win this eight with having less than 20 rows in it. It just goes to show the talent we have this year.
We just try to stick to it, the race plan. In the end we know what our strengths are, the strength of our moves and the lift, and early on all we wanted to focus on was getting off clean. it was a little bumpy, but i thought we did a pretty good job of handling it. The shifts were executed really well, they did the job.
On doubling: It's hard to do, and now we know exactly how hard it is.
Dan Beery, from FISA quick quotes:
How long have you been in this boat?
“We have been training together since 3 August this year.”
“We are really focused in the eight, and as soon as season starts, we spend 80% of the time in the eight.”
“It was a good idea [to bring the World Rowing Championships to Japan]. Were it not for the wind and current, it would be perfect, but it’s all a part of it. People are very respectful here and treat you so well, it’s amazing!”
Do you plan to go in the same combination to Beijing?
“We have guys going to Oxford, so it will change a lot. It will be a different boat, but all of them will make an Olympic boat if they stay around.”
Light Women's Double:
The US light double's silver was the first medal for the US since Sarah Garner and Christine Collins won bronze in Sydney. There had to have been a collective belly dropout when the announcer of the light women's double ceremony said "Second place... Finland!" The athletes all looked around, wondering if the results had been reversed, and the announcer saw what was happening, looked quickly at the results, and said, in the exact same tone and cadence: "Correction - Second place... USA!" What happened? The crews had been ushered onto the medal platform in the wrong order, and the announcer was simply going off their position on the podium.
"We knew we were going to have to go early in the last 500, so i called the move before we even got to the 500, because I saw Poland moving - we were in third and Poland was in fourth, it was really tight across the lanes so I knew we had to go, so we just started going a few strokes before the 500 meter mark. Every eight strokes we tried to go up again and up again and up again, then maybe five strokes past 250, we just go. At that point, we call it "sink," just throw everything out, including the kitchen sink. I didn't look, really, after we started shifting, maybe one time I looked and said "We're in third, I think we're in third," and then i knew we just had to go. After that I don't look, it's just time to go. So that's what we did! We were trying to make our third 500 stronger, and we definitely did. Ireland has a strong third 500 and we wanted to push away from them, and we did. That's kinda how it went! It was really fast, it felt so short, so I was just like "yeah, let's go!"
Julie: I heard Renee call we're in third, a couple times, and every time she did that I was like, ok, move on up, move on up, move into second, move into second, keep chewing away at the field, keep picking em off. So, we had just gone by the 750 and she called the sprint press, so i thought "alright!" (both laugh) I just committed to it and kept winding it up. "
Talk about training in light double: Julie: "It was awesome, we trained together in the double last summer, too, leading up to the Olympic trials, and we just felt like we were a natural match rowing together. We were really excited to get back into it to train this year. We just really enjoy racing together, and it was great to be able to do it here. "
Renee: "Like Julie said, we trained together last year and came in second at Olympic trials, and at the end of last year we felt confident that we were going to be a really fast double this year, and we had planned to go for the double this year. We felt like we were just getting started last year. In terms of stepping up, this is the tightest field we have ever raced in. We've done so many races together this year and last year, we felt like we were up to the challenge to do well here. We just do what we always do, we train hard and work at it every day, and we felt ready for it, that if we do what we do, we'll be fine. "
Initial reaction, Renee: "When we crossed the line I thought we got third. I knew we were ahead of Poland, but I really wasn't sure where Finland was. The angle we had across the line was strange. I don't think it has sunk in yet at all! It's going to take like a week or something, until I'm holding the medal for like a week straight until I'm like Wow! "
Julie: "I looked up at the board and I saw 1 Germany, and then there was this pause, and then 2 US came up, and I was like, we're second! Renee had said "we got third" and it came up and I was like we got second!"
Renee: "And we're like SECOND!! "
Julie: "It's great, it's one up from our medal last year, and in an Olympic event, it's awesome, it's not going to sink in for like two months. "
Men's coxed four:
The US coxed four got up and out early on, and ran out to open water. France started sprinting early, and was at 39 with 500 to go vs. the USA 35-36. I never thought the French could hold on, but they did, eventually gathering up so much momentum they wouldn't be stopped.
Matt Hughes: "We got up and got out really fast, and then it was a matter of trying to push out. i thought we had them, you know, before the 1000, b/c we were bow to stern, so we kept trying to push out more, but they kind of overcame it in the sprint in the end. I think we juiced ourselves trying to push out, and they got us in the end. We saw them start their sprint at about 500, so we just tried to take as big a push as we could, and make them think their sprint did nothing, to take away their hope. so we pushed hard, and moved out a little, but they kept it up, and we just couldn't finish at that level. "
It broke my heart to see the US women's eight miss the medals by so little - how close was it? In placing fourth, they were less than four-tenths off of second. The women's eight might have been the race of the day as a result, and you have to appreciate the desire and determination shown by the Aussie boat given the debacle the team endured in Athens. That's a monkey off of one team's back; maybe it jumps to another, makes them work harder - hard to say.
The US open women's experiment with a new approach met some unexpected bumps in the road this week: the substitution in the early going in the 4x, and then the double-trouble reps day in the sweep boats, which may have seen the folks in the pair and the stern pair of the eight digging a bit of a hole that might have been tough to climb all the way out of. On the whole, it is my feeling that looking at and trying new ways to do things early in the quadrennial is a good thing, even if they did not play out perfectly given the circumstances.
The bumpy course caused a few bad strokes today, but the most prominent victim had to be four-time Olympic gold medalist Kathrin Boron of Germany; with her crew, the German W4x, in the lead by a few feet over the GB quad at 1500 down, Boron caught a digger in sight of the TV cameras, which caused an audible gasp from the crowd. The GB went on to win by 3/10s of a second.
Double agents: Boatmakers were taking photos of each other's shells.
Not content to paddle back to the dock after the medal ceremony, the AUS and Dutch W8s each stuck their coxswains in the stroke seat and had their strokes steer; the crews then did a mock piece back towards the docks, with the dutch taking it by a few feet.
It's a little surprising to remember that you have to go back to 1999 to the last time the US won the M8+.
The Canadian light women's four was driving photographers batty on the medal stand, putting things down, picking things up, shifting around and fidgeting. They finally settled in when everyone started shouting.
Top shelf spare: Fresh off her gold medal in the single, Ekaterina Karsten doubled into the Belarus eight for a sick rower - in the two seat!
The Canadian men seemed to find their rhythm in the petite, winning by almost clear water; still, their time would have placed them only fifth in the final.
The Italian light men's pair has HEAPS of split toward the rigger, most of it occurring mid-drive; they both do it the same amount at the same time, but still, setting a pair rowing like that must be interesting. contrasted with the Danes, who barely split at all.
Multi-medalists this weekend included Marcus McIlhenny of the US (silver, M4+ and gold, M8+), and Luka Spik and Iztok Cop of Slovenia (gold M2x, silver M4x).
LM4- / IRL / (silver medallists)
How long have you been in this boat? “We have been together in this boat combination for 2-3 months. In Gifu we acclimatised quite well.”
How intense is your training schedule? “We trained 2-3 time a day, 7 days a week. One day a week, usually on Monday, we train only once a day.”
Is rowing your full time occupation? “No, we are pretty busy. I am a first year student at university and study Russian and Business. Eugene [Coakley] is a civil engineer. Richard [Archibald] is an architect, and Paul [Griffin] is studying law.”
“We hope to go to Beijing in 2008.”
W4x / RUS / (bronze medallists)
How long have you been in this boat? “Three of us have been rowing together for 9-10 years. The fourth place has been rotating. We are part of the 'army' sports club.” What keeps you motivated to stay in rowing? “We love rowing, it’s a beautiful sport. The athletes who do rowing are very different from athletes from other sports. They know what team spirit is, they are fun and they know how to be focused. I am looking forward to going back home, to see my 4 year old son.”
M4x / POL / (gold medallists) Marek Kolbowicz
How long have you been in this boat? “One year in this boat. Adam [Korol] and I have been rowing together for seven years. We got three medals, and this is our fourth medal, and it’s gold! In Athens we lost the bronze medal by 0.07 seconds, so we are very happy with the result today.”
How was the race? “Very fast. We had the best teams in our heat. All wanted to win! Slovenia, Estonia, Czech Republic, two days ago we were only two seconds apart.” “Though it’s very far, it’s a good idea [to have the World Rowing Championships in Japan]. Before the Champs we spent two weeks in Minokamo. It’s a small place. The river is very close, the people are so nice, and the food is excellent. By bringing Champs to Gifu we get a chance to get acquainted to a new country, to a new culture, it’s very interesting and educational.”
W8+ / AUS / (gold medallists)
“We had a much faster start. We came out two seconds faster.”
You had a big gap in the season, as you didn’t come to Lucerne, was that a problem? “We went to the first two BearingPoint Rowing World Cups and it’s a long way obviously from Lucerne to Australia and then to Japan, there just wasn’t enough time. We would have been in Europe for too long so it wasn’t feasible. But as it worked out, it was perfect preparation!”
LW2x / Germany / (gold medallists)
“It’s an amazing success and a great race! It was close at the end!” When we passed the Finnish crew we got an extra kick, and knew we could do it!”
LM4- / France / (gold medallists)
Jean Christophe Bette
How did you get back on top after a less successful few seasons after Sydney? “Well, through keeping up motivation. This year we started with a new coach and a new group, and we really wanted to beging the new Olympic cycle properly. It went well from the start and now what we had started at the begining of the season has come together, so it’s great!”
Were you surprised about your result? “No, at these World rowing Championships we knew we could make it. But it’s true that at the beginning of the season we did not expect to get to this level so quickly.”
Are you following your wife’s performance? (Jean-Christophe Bette is married to Caroline Freslon-Bette from the FRA LW4x) “Yes of course. We see each other every day. I was bit disappointed for here earlier on, but I hope it will be OK.”
LM2x / Denmark / (silver medallists)
“It was a close race. We could see from the times of the semi finals that it was going to be a close race with Hungary because they had almost identical times [in the semi].” “We had really problems get it to work out there, because we constantly hit the waves with the oars so we had a lot more problems with that [the final sprint] than we usually have and therefore we didn’t get the rhythm going.”
LM2- / DEN / (gold medallists)
“Yes we are [retiring]. This was our final race it means the last chance we had and we won all the races we had, so the final was important.”
Will you be staying involved in rowing? “I don’t think I will be a coach, I don’t have the patience for it, but some kind of activity related to rowing would be nice.”
“I have a daughter and a wife that I have to take care of!”
LM2- / Chile / (silver medallists)
Manuel Cerda Silva
“I think the most difficult boat to beat was definitely Italy, because they are very good, they are Olympic Champions.” “For us it is a very good race.”
Will you go on to Beijing? “Maybe, we really hope to be there.”
M4- / the Netherlands / (silver medallists)
Do you plan to stay in the four or go back into the eight? Gijs Vermeulen (the Netherlands): "We have a group of 12 to 15 people and everything is based on building an eight in Beijing, but we form a four pretty well so maybe we'll stick to the four and we'll see what happens."
What about doubling up and racing two events? "No – look what happened to the Americans."
How long have you been rowing together? Jan-Willem Gabriels (the Netherlands): "A week before the BearingPoint Rowing World Cup in Eton. In heats and semi-finals we had good races. At this level you have to have a perfect race to win."
Matthijs Vellenga (the Netherlands): "Today the first 500m was very hard. If we decide to continue together then we'll have a gold one day."
M4- / Canada / (bronze medallists)
Peter Dembicki (Canada): "The result is beyond our expectation." How long have you been training together?
Rob Weitemeyer (Canada): “Six weeks and we've been training three times a day together during that period.”
Andrew Ireland (Canada): "The atmosphere in the crew is competitive and friendly."
What is the range of ages in the boat? “Between 20 and 24 years old.”
What brought you to rowing? Rob Weitemeyer (Canada): "Basically, I was a fat kid."
M2- / New Zealand / (gold medallists)
What's the secret? Three gold medals in three races… Nathan Twaddle (New Zealand): "No secrets, hard work. It is no sudden success, it has been building up for a long time."
How did you figure out who would be racing in which boat? "We did a lot of seat racing in March."
W1x / Belarus / (gold medallist)
What keeps you motivated to stay in the sport for so long? Ekaterina Karsten (Belarus): “I'm used to it and I can't imagine my life without it. The fact that I'm winning keeps the motivation. Also FISA has changed the size of the medal and I haven't got a big gold medal yet. What also keeps me motivated is the fact that I'm coaching.”
It looks like this season was easy for you? “Yes and no. I've had a new coach since 2003 and my technique has changed for the better. I have a different approach to training now.”
You have a 7 year old daughter. What is her attitude towards you as a champion and towards rowing? “When I didn't get a gold medal in Athens she got offended. But then she agreed that it was a medal anyways and was content.
Would you like your daughter to do a sport? “Certainly. Sport is very important - the choice is up to her. In Belarus, rowing isn't very popular. They started to talk about it when I brought my first medal.”
W1x / USA / (bronze medallist)
You were in the quad in Athens, why the single now? Michelle Guerette (United States): "All of us spread out. I went to Boston, trained too hard, started again. I had good erg results and won the tests. I decided to try it out in the single although I wasn't very fast on the test. I enjoy it in the single but there's still a long way to go."
LW1x / Spain / (bronze medallist)
How was the race? Teresa Mas de Xaxars Rivero (Spain): "Very difficult because of the headwind and the highest stroke." Are you happy with the result? "Yes, but we could always do better. At the 2002 World Rowing Championships I was the third and am again the third today."
How were the weather conditions for you? "In the first week the training was dangerous, we had to train on the other side of the river."
We saw a lot of hard-fought races and tremendous examples of prowess, discipline, heart and courage this week. In the end, irrespective of outcomes, one thing is certain: The person doesn't stop wanting it.
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